The biannual National Farmers Congress kicks off in Canberra today.
Minister David Littleproud will address the gathering this morning and I will be there doing the same thing tomorrow. David Littleproud, when he fronts the NFF Congress needs to do a number of things. He needs to go there assuring those gathered that he has a solution to the very, very serious workforce issues and challenges faced by many of our farmers and in particular, our growers. He needs to assure the gathering that the Prime Minister’s adventurism on Jerusalem, and the Israel question more generally, is not going to impact on our relationship with Indonesia, is not going to impact on the Indonesian Free Trade Agreement and is not going to have an impact on our live cattle exports to Indonesia which have always been regularly affected by sensitivities in Indonesia. He also needs to demonstrate that the drought summit, which will be held Friday week, is something more than a talk fest. People will be disappointed if they learn that after five years in Government and after five years of protracted drought, all we are going to get next Friday is a talk fest. Most importantly David Littleproud when he fronts the NFF Congress tomorrow needs to demonstrate he is able to do what Barnaby Joyce was unable to do after four years in Government and that is produce a strategic and overarching plan for the Australian agriculture sector.
Fiona Simson, the president of the National Farmers’ Federation again this morning said on national radio that this country lacks a strategic plan for the agriculture sector. That’s a damning condemnation of this Government. The NFF today has again produced its own plan. I support the key principles of that plan. I support any plan that lifts and modernises Australian agriculture and focuses more on value, or at least as much on value as on volume. They are the tests for David Littleproud today. If he’s not able to give reassurance on all of those points, he may as well just get out of the way and let the drought envoy come back to the position.
JOURNALIST: Is the issue of RoundUp going to rear its head at the conference?
FITZGIBBON: I suspect glyphosate will get a mention at the National Farmers’ Federation Conference over the course of the next two days. It’s a product which the farming sector very, very heavily relies upon. It is a great failing of the Government that it has not been able to maintain confidence in the regulator in this area. Of course the APVMA is the regulator and its workforce has been smashed by Barnaby Joyce’s forced relocation of the authority to Armidale. A relocation absolutely supported by then Treasurer, Scott Morrison.